Putting “power back into the hands of litigants”, Delhi’s first ‘virtual court’ was inaugurated at Tiz Hazari courts so matters pertaining to traffic violations can be disposed via online payment.
The first such virtual court project, it was inaugurated by Delhi High Court Chief Justice Dhirubhai Naranbhai Patel, who has earlier spoken about starting paperless courts in the Delhi High Court and has urged other judges to try the same.
To tackle voluminous pendency in courts, the concept of virtual courts was envisioned so litigants don’t have to come to court and instead have the option of paying challan for a traffic violation or petty issues from their home.
The virtual court will be presided over by a Metropolitan Magistrate, whose jurisdiction can extend to the entire state, and the court is expected to function 24×7.
“We are putting the power back into the hands of the litigant, neither shall he come to the court nor will the judge have to sit physically in court to adjudicate the case. Communication may only be in electronic form and the sentencing and further payment of fine or compensation will also be online. It may be proactive admission of guilt by the accused or proactive compliance of the cause by defendant on receipt of the summons in electronic form. On payment of fine, such matters may be treated as disposed,” said Sidharth Mathur, central project coordinator, Delhi High Court.
Under the new system, when a traffic challan is issued, it will be sent to the virtual court, where the litigant’s case details will be recorded. The cases can be filed by the prosecution directly in the virtual court through a portal. In cases of traffic challan, data can be shared through an API or web service provided by RTO or traffic police.
The litigant is then informed through email or SMS about his case, and an option to plead guilty and pay the fine or contest it. In case the litigant contests the case, it will be transferred out of the virtual court to a regular court.
“We found that the maximum number of people coming to pay their challans were cab drivers and auto drivers. They were unaware of court proceedings. In this set up, they can find out about their case status by simply putting their name or driving licence number,” Mathur said.
The ambit of the virtual court is expected to widen as cases pertaining to the Negotiable Instruments Act and certain civil cases or Motor Accident Claim Petitions may also be tried in the future.
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